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04-04-2012 | Diabetes | Article

Anthropometric measures predict diabetes in Koreans


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MedWire News: Simple anthropometric measures such as body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and waist-to-height ratio are strong predictors for Type 2 diabetes risk in Koreans, report researchers.

In addition, measures of central body fat can help improve the prediction of Type 2 diabetes risk in nonobese or less obese Asian individuals when added to measures of general obesity, they say.

"Asian populations have different associations between BMI, percentage of body fat, and health risks than do European populations, and lower BMI and WC criteria have been proposed for Asian populations," write H Kim (Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea) and colleagues in Diabetic Medicine.

"However, most longitudinal studies examining the ability of obesity measures to predict Type 2 diabetes risk have been performed in populations of European origin, with less known about Asian populations," they say.

To investigate, the team measured height, weight, WC, and blood glucose levels in 7658 nondiabetic individuals, and used bioelectrical impedence analysis to calculate their fat mass and percent body fat. The patients were followed up 5 years later for incidence of diabetes.

The researchers report that each of the anthropometric parameters of general obesity (BMI, fat mass, percent body fat) and central body fat distribution (WC and waist-to-height ratio) were significant predictors for Type 2 diabetes.

However, areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUCs) indicated that BMI, WC, and waist-to-height ratio were better predictors for diabetes risk than fat mass or percent body fat, at 0.697, 0.709, and 0.718 versus 0.672 and 0.657, respectively.

The team also found that, when the participants were divided into low- (<23 kg/m2), mid- (23-27 kg/m2) and high- (>27 kg/m2) BMI groups, waist-to-height ratio and WC improved diabetes prediction when combined with BMI in the low- and mid-BMI groups.

"Our findings suggest that measuring waist circumference may add useful information to that of BMI regarding the risk of diabetes in nonobese and less obese Asian individuals," write Kim et al.

The researchers say that neither fat mass nor percent body fat provided better risk estimates for diabetes than simple anthropometric measures and suggest this may be because visceral fat mass, rather than total body fat, is more closely associated with metabolic risks.

"Further studies of the roles of central adiposity and visceral adiposity in the development of Type 2 diabetes in Asians are warranted," they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sally Robertson